New Hampton pet boutique a treat for animal owners

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By Nancy Rineman

Hampton Union, April 23, 2013

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Debbie Kahla of Paws for Applause

Debbie Kahla of Paws for Applause in Hampton displays a selection
of collars at her Route 1 boutique. [Courtesy photo]

HAMPTON — Paws for Applause, one of Hampton's newest attractions, is an absolute must for the pet lover whose love of animals knows no bounds.

Tucked within the property of the Hampton Veterinary Hospital at 871 Lafayette Road, Route 1, the business was opened by Debbie Kahla, who is providing customers with a new shopping experience that keeps them coming back.

"People are surprised because it's a completely different store," Kahla said.

Only Paws for Applause is actually not a store, according to Kahla.

"This is a boutique," Kahla said emphatically.

Boutique does best describe the collections at Paws for Applause. Kahla, who has spent decades owning, breeding and showing Golden Retrievers, identifies herself as typical of all show dog owners.

"Dog show people are crazy," Kahla said, with a laugh. "We're always looking for something (dog related.)"

Kahla's lines of pet items are about 75 percent USA made. She supports many local American artisans and entrepreneurs, as well as offering some imports, such as breed-specific designer needlepoint pillows for home accent pieces.

It's hard to know where to look first when entering Paws for Applause.

There is the wood Golden Retriever-image bird feeder, the Zen Cat wind chimes hanging above to the homemade items in the Kitty Corner. Here, catnip is disguised in the form of a Mexican taco treat, or a colorful version of bacon-and-eggs and an assortment of other designs.

Canine items, however, seem to dominate the scene at Paws for Applause. A colorful array of harnesses, collars and even coats designed for particular breeds of dogs can be either found or ordered here. Collars vary from sporty waterproof choices to the elegance of leather studded with Swarovski crystal.

Interactive toys and games for dogs (and their owners), designed by Nina Ottoson of Sweden, extend dogs' interests beyond the realm of playing fetch or performing standard pet tricks and can be found at Paws for Applause. Wooden puzzle pieces and games of varying levels serve to mentally stimulate the minds of the family pet, show dog or working dog.

Kahla, who owned a similar store when she lived in Washington, stocks comfort items, too, and the savvy shopper will recognize Bowsers Pet Products for designing the "Rolls Royce" of dog beds. Longevity and endurance are both found in these beds, and some have been known to last for up to three generations of appreciative Goldens, Kahla said.

Sof-Krate introduces pet owners to a new meaning in kennel cages, in that Sof-Krate products have none of the metal rods associated with some previous designs.

"This store is about you and your relationship with your animals," Kahla said.

Kahla's expertise in interior design enhances the décor in Paws for Applause. Whimsical accent pieces carry the theme of the boutique while showcasing its charm and unique products.

"This is a bit of a New York scene in Hampton, but less expensive," Kahla said.

Paws for Applause is open Tuesday through Saturday. Stop in and visit what has become a valuable addition to Hampton and the Seacoast. Enjoy a cup of coffee while you browse and pick up a package of Jack's Bites, homemade dog treats made by Kahla's daughter in Byfield, Mass.

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